Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- July 20, 2005

Settlement Brings $500,000 to Cal Poly for Animal Nutrition Research

Cal Poly's Animal Science program has received $500,000 for its animal nutrition research and instruction programs as the result of a settlement of an industry-wide class action suit -- and could possibly receive more funding later this year.

Cal Poly could receive additional funds from the settlement fund before the end of 2005, depending on final resolution of the case, said Animal Science Department Head Andy Thulin.

Cal Poly was not a plaintiff in the original suit resulting in the settlement, but was chosen to receive the funding because of its strong animal nutrition program. "This money will significantly enhance the department's ability to do research and educate students about cutting-edge technologies that will ultimately benefit California," Thulin said.

To receive the settlement funding, Cal Poly submitted a proposal after being contacted along with other universities by the law firms overseeing the settlement. Thulin's proposal outlined the Cal Poly Animal Science program, its offerings, and what the university would do with the settlement money if received.

The strength of the university's program and its partnership with a strong advisory board of industry representatives aided Cal Poly in receiving the settlement funding, Thulin said. "Cal Poly's Animal Science Department is a national leader in undergraduate training in animal nutrition and reproductive biology. We're expanding and improving the biotechnology program and we're particularly strong in beef, equine, poultry, and swine studies," Thulin said.

One project already lined up for the department is research into reducing phosphates, nitrates and other components of animal waste in commercial swine operations, Thulin said. Cal Poly is already involved in several avian nutrition and immunology research projects through its Foster Farms professorship and poultry science program, he noted.

The unanticipated $500,000 comes at a critical time; Cal Poly's Animal Science Department is about to launch into a $12 million construction project to build four new facilities. They include a new animal nutrition center, beef center and feedlot, and a meat processing center, with associated classrooms, labs and animal areas. The facilities are being relocated and rebuilt to make way for a new student housing project set to break ground this fall.

Cal Poly has secured $8 million in state funding for the animal science construction projects, and the department is on a drive to raise the remaining $4 million over the next several months.

The bulk of the $500,000 settlement, and any future monies received from the settlement, will go toward building the new campus animal nutrition center, Thulin said. Anyone interested in contributing to the department's fund-raising drive can contact Thulin or development officer Andy Carlin at the department office at (805) 756-2419.

The university received the $500,000 check June 29 from a class action settlement fund involving a suit by purchasers of animal feeds against the makers of a synthetic animal feed ingredient called methionine. The ingredient is an amino acid found naturally in soybeans that is a key component of swine and poultry feed.

The original lawsuits, filed in California, accused several international synthetic methionine manufacturers of global price-fixing. The court-approved settlement provided that at least $500,000 in payments agreed to by the methionine makers is used to further animal nutrition research and education.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs reviewed several other animal nutrition programs and learned details of Cal Poly's program. Attorney Dario de Ghetaldi of Corey, Luziach, Pliska, De Ghetaldi & Nastari and Michele C. Jackson of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein proposed Cal Poly to the court as the recipient of the $500,000. The court agreed.

Jackson and de Ghetaldi said in a joint statement that they are sure Cal Poly will put the funds to good use and their law firms are gratified by being able to assist Cal Poly's Animal Science program.

For more details about the Cal Poly Animal Science Department, visit its Web site.

Contact: Andy Thulin, Department Head, Animal Science, (805) 756-2419, athulin@calpoly.edu


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